Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems

What happens if you have a fire in your home? The first thing that happens (hopefully) is your smoke alarms/detectors sound with that annoying alarm that occurs every time I broil meat. The next thing that happens is you evacuate the house or in some cases look for the fire extinguisher and try to handle it yourself. A smoke detector is designed to save lives, but not your home. Don’t get me wrong here I’m not advocating going “detectorless”, quite the contrary, they are a necessary part of a homes safety equipment. I’m just saying your home should have more.
Scenario: You just signed a contract to build your new home and your specifying what is to go into that home. Definitely, you should have sufficient smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors, but what about a home sprinkler system?


Home Sprinkler System Myths.
When a one sprinkler head is activated, all the sprinklers activate.  This is not true. The only sprinkler head that is activated is the one that has sensed the temperature rise. The others will not activate unless they sense the higher temperature.
A sprinkler could accidentally go off, causing severe water damage to a home.  This is not true. With 50 years of data to back present information, there is a very remote chance of this happening. In fact, home sprinkler systems are specifically designed to limit this possibility.
Water damage from a sprinkler system will be more extensive than fire damage. This is not true. Sprinkler systems limit the growth of the fire and suppress smoke and heat damage. If the alternative is to let it burn until the fire department arrives the damage in an unsprinkled house is much more costly than a sprinkled house.
Smoking or cooking could set off the sprinklersThis is not true. Sprinkler heads activate at 155 degrees F. Since they are mounted on the ceiling it is almost impossible to activate a sprinkler head by any normal activity. The heads are also covered to prevent accidental damage to the head itself.


These are the usual objections to a home sprinkler system now lets talk money. The average home sprinkler system is less than 1% of the total cost of the house. Depending on the insurance carrier and your location, the savings on your home insurance bill could be as much as 15%. 
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection Services
Clayton, Ohio
Sources: Sources: USFA (United States Fire Administration), FEMA, NFPA
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